Wednesday, September 22, 2021

Walkout to continue as planned, say contract doctors

The Hartal Doktor Kontrak group says the extension of contract offered by the government does not meet their demands.

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The planned walkout by a group of contract doctors will continue as scheduled on Monday at government hospitals and clinics across the country, with organisers saying the government has failed to fulfil their demands.

Hartal Doktor Kontrak spokesman Dr Umar Barakah said some 4,000 doctors are expected to join the strike.

He said they will clock in for work in the morning before staging the walkout at 11am.

“We want to show that we are many in number, and without us, the healthcare system will be paralysed,” he said at a press conference today.

The decision follows the government’s announcement yesterday of a two-year extension of contract for medical officers, dentists and pharmacists once they have completed their compulsory service.

The group said this was a “sugar-coating statement” to keep them quiet, adding that it would not guarantee their future.

They have been calling for their absorption into permanent positions and an explanation of the criteria for the transition of some 23,000 doctors currently serving on contract.

“As long as nothing is in black and white, and there is no stamp and signature, it is only a media statement and not a circular,” Umar said in response to Muhyiddin.

The hospitals involved include the Sungai Buloh Hospital, Hospital Tengku Ampuan Rahimah in Selangor, Hospital Tuanku Fauziah in Perlis and Hospital Queen Elizabeth in Sabah.

Umar said the group had pledged not to jeopardise the health of the patients in their care.

He said those who are stationed at ICUs have been encouraged to return to work after the walkout.

“We also have contract doctors placed at vaccination centres,” he added. “These might not be many in number, and we encourage them to show solidarity with us (if they cannot join the walkout).”

Umar said the group was also ready with its legal team in the event that doctors who join the movement are threatened or placed under disciplinary action by their superiors.

“We will continue to push and to fight if the government stays silent,” he said.

“We will wait for a response from the government after July 26 before we announce our next course of action.”

He also voiced hope for a “win-win” solution in addition to an overhaul of the contract system.

The contract system was introduced by former prime minister Najib Razak for medical, dental and pharmacy graduates in the tabling of the 2017 Budget at the Dewan Rakyat, due to constraints on permanent positions.

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